Feather on the Breath of God
pay attention, be astonished writes Mary Oliver.
be still and know says a Psalm poem
what will surprise me today?
am I ready to receive that gift?
Last week as I started to step up into my truck to leave and begin a list of errands, I walked by beauty I would surely have missed if I had not stopped to look at a spot on the garage floor. I bent to look closer and was flooded with pleasure at finding this art right there in the middle of an otherwise unattractive canvas. The beveled glass in a side door to the garage was a prism creating a spot of perfect rainbow colors. It was just the right moment of time and light and I stepped unknowingly into that moment. It was a Mary Oliver “pay attention and be astonished” time, however brief.
I believe we miss many of those moments because we are not paying attention and do not expect to find them. Opportunities like this one call me to slow down, stop, and wonder..
“Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson
Driving toward Houston at dawn is a rush of hurrying commuters headed for their work target, streams of traffic, sounds of impatient horns. On a morning recently when Joe and I were headed to an early appointment in the Medical Center, I photographed the quickly changing colors of sunrise. The car was moving fast, the clouds and colors shifting, and there was no opportunity for focus. The wash of color is still a gift, and a reminder to me to look for beauty everywhere, all the time.
View from a windowr in our living room
Because our local temperatures have mirrored the widespread hanging on of Winter, I am even more grateful than usual for the warmth of my home and plenty of books to read. But I know that 29 degrees and wind and rain are minor compared to severe cold,snow and ice elsewhere, I am also grateful I don’t need to shovel snow and drive in those hazardous conditions. I know that Spring is around the corner – but I was still smiling in surprise when I saw this redbud tree in full bloom as my husband drove me to the surgery center 2 weeks ago. When we returned this week so I could have sutures removed, I asked him to go the same way so I could look for the tree. There it was, on a corner where we could stop for a quick photograph.
I am thankful for windows, and for vision to see through them to beyond my immediate surroundings. But these would not be enough if I did not pay attention to them. At this very moment, I am in a room with windows but the blinds are closed. By paying attention, I hear not just one but many birds warbling and calling. It is still and there is no sound of rain beating down or wind tossing branches so I know the storm that ushered in this latest cold front has moved on. I am reminded again that being aware and giving attention to my surroundings provide windows and views as well. And I am aware of stirrings within me. There are also seasons of the soul. I welcome Springtime..
This is a fragment of a very old leaded glass window featuring painted glass and the one word “Blessed.” I wish I knew the whole story of the window it came from, but I know only a little. In the late 1970’s, my husband was approached about repairing vintage leaded glass windows which had been purchased in England by a couple who were members of our church . They had donated the windows, where they were to be used in specific places inside the church. This meant they must be cut to fit those places. Joe disliked trimming the old windows, but did so. There were many small pieces left, and this piece was given to me. It now rests on a tiny easel in my kitchen window alongside another piece of stained glass. Recently, when someone cleaned the window sill, the glass was put back on the easel backward.
When I noticed the mistake, I reached for my camera and only after I looked at the image did I realize that the glass might be backward, but the reflection on the shiny granite beneath it is right.
How many times do I not recognize how blessed I am, simply because I need to look in a different way?
” ‘What you see and what you hear depends a great deal on where you are standing. It also depends on what sort of person you are.'” C.S. Lewis, in The Magician’s Nephew